Malaysia: Firefighters brace for major battles

RAZAK AHMAD The Star 19 May 17;

PETALING JAYA: With the arrival of the dry season, firefighters are bracing themselves for some tough battles with forest and peat fires expected.

Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said parts of Selangor, Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu and Perak have been identified as hotspots.

The southwest monsoon started on Wednesday, bringing drier weather to peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak until September.

“The monsoon is expected to cause a drop in rainfall,” Wan Mohd Nor said.

All 13,000 department staff have been put on standby, and a notice will also be issued to department officers instructing them to ensure that all equipment are in good order.

The department has seven helicopters, 500 firetrucks, 400 lorries and pick-up trucks, 1,000 portable pumps and 10 high-capacity mobile water pumps that can be deployed to fight fires.

Wan Mohd Nor said the department was reviewing its Standard Operating Procedure for tackling forest and peat fires.

“This is because we may require more support from related agencies including the Department of Environment.”

He said forest and peat fires were expected especially in wetlands near the KLIA, Bestari Jaya and Sungai Besar in Selangor; Rompin, Nenasi and Pekan in Pahang; Beris Lalang in Bachok, Kelantan; Tok Kah in Dungun, Terengganu; and several hilly areas in Perak forest reserves.

He advised people against doing any open burning which could cause smog.

“Setting fires to clear small heaps of rubbish can be as dangerous as starting a fire to clear a large plot of land. Both can spread easily in this hot and dry weather,” said Wan Mohd Noor.

Hot, dry days until September
RAZAK AHMAD and RAHIMY RAHIM The Star 18 May 17;

PETALING JAYA: The southwest monsoon has brought with it hotter and drier weather to peninsular Ma­­laysia and Sarawak.

Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment (MetMalaysia) director-general Alui Bahari said the monsoon season started yesterday.

He said the southwest monsoon came after the end of the inter-monsoon period which brought heavy rains to the peninsula last month.

The monsoon is expected to last until September.

“Generally, during the southwest monsoon, the country will experience lower rainfall in the peninsula and Sarawak,” Alui said in an email.

He said there would be more dry days ahead than wet ones in these two areas during this period.

“But Sabah will receive more rain than other states” he added.

According to the MetMalaysia website, there are four seasons in Malaysia - the southwest monsoon (May to September), northeast monsoon (early November to March), and two inter-monsoon seasons in between.

Rain is only expected to return in October during the next inter-monsoon period.

The northeast monsoon will bring heavy rain to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, west Sarawak and the northeast of Sabah.

Meanwhile, to escape the hot weather, more people have been seeking shelter in shopping malls

Malaysia Shopping Malls Asso­ciation adviser HC Chan said families would spend more time in malls when the weather got hotter.

“They will have many options in­­clu­­ding going to the restaurants and shops to escape the heat,” he said.

Chan said since the hot spell began recently, there has been a 10% increase in the number of visitors to shopping malls in the Klang Valley.